A fun, magic-infused fantasy/adventure.
Twin sisters Haley and Lacey look forward to spending the summer at their grandmother Clara’s house—especially after a psychic reading reveals that it will be their most adventurous summer yet. Gifted with magical abilities, the girls learn their craft from their grandmother’s friend Gisele, who also owns a magical forest where unicorns, fairies and other fantastical creatures live. After an earthquake strikes, the enchanted forest is plagued by multiple rifts containing various monsters—each one more horrible than the last. If someone doesn’t close the rifts quickly, the nefarious beasts will take over the forest—eventually spilling over into the outside world. Since her extended, magical family refuses to help, Gisele must rely on her 16-year-old grandnephew, his distant cousin Selena and the young twins. While the kids prove surprisingly adept, the forest’s danger threatens to overpower them and may just bring them closer to the psychic’s other prediction: that one among them will fall. The first in a series, the action-adventure tale weaves fantastical elements with everyday life. While it creates an imaginative world, the novel sometimes relies too heavily on the quantity of action rather than its quality. The bulk of each excursion into the forest only differs by the contents of each rift and its subsequent cure—a system that becomes rote. While the majority of the plot will likely resonate with middle graders, many of the romantic situations skew much older, with scenes of moaning, “red-hot desire” and serious making out. Had the characters been a bit older, these mature situations would have had less negative impact.
The execution could use a bit of polish, but this light fantasy engages and entertains.